In a new interview with ABC, former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding opened up about the attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, which dominated headlines for weeks in early 1994. Shane Stant struck Nancy in the knee with a baton after she walked off the ice in January of that year during practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. “It makes you cringe hearing it, because you know how much that it had to have hurt,” Tonya said.
Nancy briefly withdrew from competition to heal but was well enough to compete in the Olympics, where she earned a silver medal in women’s singles while Tonya came in eighth.
Although Tonya was not charged in the attack — which was arranged by her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, along with Brian Sean Griffith, (who she referred to as “dumb as a post”) — she pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution of those responsible.
“I knew something was up,” Tonya said of the beating that nearly ended Nancy’s career. Although she herself denies any wrongdoing to this day, she added, “I did, however, overhear them talking about stuff where, ‘Well, maybe we should take somebody out to make sure she gets on the team,'” she said. “I go, ‘What the hell are you talking about?'” That confession marked the first time she plainly stated she knew Nancy or another American competitor was prone to attack.
“I get angry, nobody wanted to ever believe me. When I found out that the truth was finally going to come out,” the now 47-year-old recalled of the moment her involvement was made public. “I’m always the bad person. And I never understood that.” In the summer of 1994, Tonya was stripped of her most recent national championship title and banned for life from U.S. Figure Skating,
Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story airs on Jan. 11 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.